An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nice rack! There was one?

New York City is sponsoring a design competition for a new city bike rack. Apparently, the Powers That Be are hoping to update the Big Apple's current line of racks, and to develop something a bit more "iconic." Winners of the competition will not only see their design sprout like a dozen sunflowers somewhere in the city. They'll be honored at the Cooper-Hewitt design museum.

Zac Frank, a transportation official, explained that the two dominant bike rack design on city sidewalks. The first is the wavy rack, “called the continuous curve,” he said. “There is one called the single inverted U — and it is called the ‘inverted U,’” he added, helpfully.

City Room objected, dismayed that the wavy one — which is elegant and simple and ziggy — might be jettisoned.

“I think the wavy thing is good too,” Mr. Frank said. “But it’s just been around for a long time.” Or as the news release put it, the current rack “does not fulfill its potential to be an icon for New York City cycling.” (Ouch!)


Two things. First, I personally have not yet seen a bike rack in the world that I would call "iconic." Have you? It's a noble aspiration, but I mean... it's a bike rack.



Second, I hope to God they don't remove or replace the old, less-than-iconic racks. Frankly, it was news to me that the city even has a meaningful bike rack policy, program and presence. I never saw a single bike rack in a whole year of bike commuting from Park Slope to Mid-Town, and to call any bike rack design "dominant" there is a real hat-stretcher.

5 comments:

Dobie said...

I only wanna say that I hate the traditional loopy racks (like in the foreground of the picture). They are the worst when bikes start to pile up. Completely ineffecient. I hate even more the fact that the MOMA has had one on display. Then when we complained to my school (an overpriced art/design school (hint: it's in Brooklyn)) about not enough racks, what did they put in?

Matt said...

Two points.

First, Toronto has an iconic rack. Sadly, it turns out that the ring of the two-piece post and ring can be broken off with a large plank and the bike stolen. Yerss, not so fine. You can see these here.

Second, I'd disagree with Dobie on the rack design. I prefer the inverted U. It holds two bikes, not much wrong with it. The Wave rack only supports the bike in one spot unless, as I've seen from time to time, you park along the rack, in which case its capacity drops to about 2 as well. (Hot damn! A new Bicycle Argument! This can join wheel sizes/frame materials/helmets in the Pantheon!)

Dero Manufacturing (here, though for me their site seems to be misbehaving at the moment) here in town makes bike racks of all sorts including the fish- and bike-shaped ones you see at the U and a lot of the arty ones used in the East Village area of Des Moines. Check out their site to see some different designs.

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